Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Men of L'Engle #1: Paul Laurens

We're starting out easy here in the Men of L'Engle Project*. Paul Laurens appears in just one book, And Both Were Young. No multi-book character arcs to discuss here, just one of L'Engle's early creations.

Fair warning: Expect spoilers in these posts. It's kind of hard to analyze characters without giving away plot. If you're lagging behind on your L'Engle reading, get caught up, then come back here.

And Both Were Young is mostly set in an all-girl Swiss boarding school, but Paul manages to score plenty of page time, starting when main character Flip runs into him (literally) at a chateau they're both visiting.

Leading characteristics:
  • Doesn't like "institutions." At first, this gives him a good excuse to be hanging out with his free-range father when Flip goes wandering off campus. Later revealed to be the result of concentration camp-induced PTSD.
  • Good at skiing. And teaching skiing. To Flip.
  • Interested in medicine. Shows promise (has treated many animals), but interest conflicts with his disinclination to go to school.
  • The strong, silent, moody type. "There was always grief in his eyes."
Pull quote(s):
  • "I knew right away that I liked you, so I never bothered to think why."
And Both Were Young is a fairly straightforward and sweet coming-of-age story, and both those adjectives also apply to Paul. It's hard to imagine him doing anything to hurt Flip (oh, Zachary, we will get to you later) or upset the space-time continuum.

We know from the appearance of one of her portraits in a later book that Flip does realize her dream of becoming an artist, but since she herself isn't present, we don't know anything about her personal life. It could go either way, I think. Either she and Paul are about to celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary, after a lifetime of dividing themselves between New York and Paris, or else Flip still pulls out a silver necklace once in a while, and smiles when she thinks back on her first love.

*And if you've got a better name, seriously, send it along.


Gina Choe said...

So I have no self control and read the post even though Paul Laurens is one of the few L'Engle men that I've yet to meet.
He sounds like he has all the makings of my perfect guy (at least my perfect guy when I was 16). But this? "There was always grief in his eyes." This sealed the deal. Call me, Paul, if things don't work out between you and Flip!

Sarah Rettger said...

I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding a copy, but if not, you're welcome to borrow mine!

I picked it up at a book sale ages ago, and it was my reintroduction to L'Engle after a disappointing attempt to read A Wrinkle in Time when I was way too young to get it.